Review Summary: Dance til you're dead.
There’s no such thing as subtlety on TURN OFF THE LIGHT
. Kim Petras set out to release a set of spooky, sexy club pop songs and that’s exactly what she did. Whether it’s song titles like “There Will Be Blood”, “Massacre”, “Death by Sex”, “Tell Me It’s a Nightmare”, and “Everybody Dies” or the building menace on opener “Purgatory”, it’s clear that this isn’t going to be a typical pop album. It’s also not Billie Eilish’s brand of dark pop. No, this is sinister pop that still has some of the most danceable beats released this year, choruses for days, and powerhouse vocals that are just as capable as making you dance with chaotic energy as they are with making you quiver in fear.
These macabre forces coming together are clear from the opening one-two duo of “Purgatory” and “There Will Be Blood”. Outside of some vocal runs, Petras is pretty much absent from the opening track. She makes her presence known almost immediately on the seamless transition into “There Will Be Blood”. Featuring equally malicious and seductive lyrics, a pulsating beat, Petras leaping back and forth from hushed vocals, to almost yelling out the chorus as she belts out her own support, and an absolutely singable chorus, it leads to certifiably creepy bop. The song sets up the dark theme of this Halloween mixtape without. It would feel as equally welcome over the trailer for a horror movie as it would on a dance floor.
For the most part, all of TURN OFF THE LIGHT
meets “There Will Be Blood” and creates song-after-song of ominous pop music that would make you shiver with fear if you weren’t already dancing your way to death. The mixture of dance pop, glitchy beats, and even some trap stylings means that she never falls into a formula. Every song that has Petras at the forefront offers something different from the last. Take “Massacre”, which is the most midtempo the album gets. It creates an absolutely claustrophobic atmosphere with a verse to the unmistakable cadence of “Carol of the Bells”, a simple chorus of “It’s gonna be a massacre”, and Petras’ absolutely enrapturing vibrato. Then there’s “Death by Sex”, the most clearly trap-influenced song and creepiest bedroom pop that might exist. The title track even features Elvira, Mistress of the Dark with a delicious incantation. Closing track “Everybody Dies” takes a slight turn from the rest of the album, creating a sound that seems like a combination between Lady Gaga and Rocky Horror Picture Show. It takes the campiness of the rest of the album and turns it up to eleven, embracing it in an 80s retrospect. It’s the closing credits song to the end of story where there were no survivors.
Unfortunately, TURN OFF THE LIGHT
fails to capitalize on its potential for amazing momentum by including far too many instrumental transition tracks. Essentially every other song on the 17 track album is an instrumental and some of them are far too long to justify their inclusion. “There Will Be Blood” again transitions perfectly into third track “Bloody Valentine” which would have worked if it weren’t 3-minutes long or vocal-less repetition. Almost every instrumental has the same flaw. They sound interesting, but they’re too long, and lack the best part of the album - the energy from Petras. There’s no denying their immaculate production, but it’s not worth the trade-off. Occasionally they work, such as “Knives” which has a clear structure and is centered around the scraping together of knives, perfectly combining the club with the creepy. But far too often the instrumentals just get in the way of the more fulfilling and fun vocal tracks. However, even if the instrumentals disrupt the momentum, Turn Off the Lights
is filled with enough energy and highlights that it makes you want to fulfill the challenge of the title. Turn off the lights and dance along - just hope it doesn’t make you scared of the dark.